1 Oct 2002

Morobe governor warns PNG government against applying user pays charges to public services

10:43 am on 1 October 2002

The governor of Papua New Guinea's Morobe province fears the government will introduce a user pays system on public services.

This follows the Supreme Court ruling that the country's goods and services tax is illegal and invalid.

Luther Wenge, who took the matter to court, says the government must introduce methods of revenue collection that are fair and that will not financially punish ordinary Papua New Guineans.

Governor Wenge says he warned the previous government months before the tabling of its budget that a court decision was pending and that it could lose a revenue source currently bringing in 151 million US dollars annually.

He says the warning was ignored and that he is appealing to the government not to introduce a userpays system.

"The VAT.. they used that to assist in social services like health and all the others, now it's not going to be there. Where to do they get the money to help, so they must come up with something. A substantial number of Papua New Guineans, they have very low salary and no increase for many, many years. So whatever you do, you've got to be fair."

Governor Luther Wenge.

The Internal Revenue Commission is seeking an court order to allow it to enforce VAT.